According to NASA officials, the nation’s current and worsening shortage of science, math and technology teachers is a “potential national security problem.”
If more youngsters aren’t encouraged to enjoy those disciplines to the point where they’d love to teach them, the situation might easily impact America’s leadership in science and technology, a NASA spokesperson said.
But the number of students pursuing science and technology careers continues to decline in an era when employment opportunities in related fields are expected to increase at a rate three times greater than the rate for all other occupations.
By the time American children reach the seventh grade, over half say they have no interest in science.
To combat the problem, NASA has launched its Explorer Schools Program, where school teachers and administrators agree to partner with NASA in a three-year commitment aimed at training teachers to better train students in grades five through eight to love math, science and technology.
Teachers and administrators at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School were recently notified that the Puhi school is one of just two in Hawaii, and 50 in the country, to be chosen NASA Explorer Schools for the 2003-04 school year.
In the national effort to get more students interested in math, science and technology, both as students and teachers, the NASA Explorer program offers schools grants up to $10,000, partially paid teacher training, and other incentives upon school officials signing three-year-commitment documents and coming up with action plans.
The NASA Explorer Schools Program allows participating students to solve NASA-related design problems, and access actual NASA data.
The NASA school team includes four to five teachers and administrators who commit to attending a NASA workshop this summer, and agree to participate in ongoing professional development over the three-year commitment period.
Of the 10 NASA Field Centers across the Mainland, Kauai has current and ongoing connections with the Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif.
The Helios Prototype solar-powered aircraft is currently testing at the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands near Kekaha, and scientists at NASA’s Dryden facility are in charge of the Helios project.
The agency formally launches the NASA Explorer Schools Program for 2003 at the National Educational Computing Conference in Seattle on Monday, June 30.
For more information, please see the Web site, www.explorerschools.nasa.gov.
Business Editor Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:email@example.com or 245-3681 (ext. 224).